NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Thinkin’ Dirty: 2021 Quad Cities 150 at Davenport

The Headline(s): Quad Cities 150

Rainouts galore, late model points leaders tighten their grip, and young Devin Moran dominates the inaugural Quad Cities 150 at Davenport Speedway.

How it Happened

Saturday night’s (Aug. 28) 70-lap finale to the three-day Quad Cities 150 at Davenport saw Dresden, Ohio’s Devin Moran dominate, holding off persistent pressure from World of Outlaws Late Models points leader Brandon Sheppard in the opening 10 laps and then keeping Bobby Pierce at bay for a long green-flag run. When all was said and done, late-race cautions aside, Moran went largely unchallenged in scoring the $30,000 win, his richest score of 2021.

Moran, who also won Thursday’s preliminary feature by keeping Pierce at arm’s length on the bottom of the tight Davenport bullring, benefited in the closing laps Saturday from being up front, as the battle for positions 2-6 proved to be contentious. That contention came to a head five laps short of the finish, when Pierce dumped current runner-up in points Chris Madden in a battle for second.

As a result, Madden ended up finishing Saturday’s feature two spots behind points leader Sheppard, leaving Madden, who kept his emotions in impressive control under yellow, to trade some paint after the checkers flew.

The WoO feature ended up being the highlight of the weekend, as the $30,000 finale of the Rumble by the River event for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series was rained out at Port Royal Speedway in Pennsylvania.

Success Stories

Both the points leaders of the WoO late models and LOLMDS expanded their points leads and continued building momentum with their performances over the weekend. Sheppard was aided by the late-race contact between Pierce and Madden, but he nonetheless won Friday’s preliminary feature at Davenport and finished ahead of Madden all three nights. Sheppard also is within two wins of tying Josh Richards for tops all time in the series.

Meanwhile, LOLMDS leader Tim McCreadie rebounded from heat race damage to score a top-10 finish Thursday at Port Royal, then won Friday’s $12,000 feature at the track on a night where current runner-up Jonathan Davenport got taken out of contention with a mid-race flat tire.

It didn’t quite match what Dave Hess Jr. pulled at Eriez Speedway last Sunday, but a deserved shoutout to Georgetown, Del.’s Ross Robinson from going from last to ninth in Friday’s Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series feature Friday night at Port Royal. 

Justin Grant may be third in USAC national sprint car points, but he proved the undisputed champion of the Sprint Car Smackdown at Kokomo Speedway this weekend, winning Friday’s preliminary feature as well as Saturday’s $15,000 finale. Grant certainly earned Saturday’s win, having to hold a spirited charge off from pole sitter Tanner Thorson over the final two laps.  

Martinsville, Ind.’s Hudson O’Neal made major strides in what has already been a career year in 2021, winning Thursday’s preliminary feature at Port Royal and then running second on Friday. Both times, O’Neal bested veteran Jonathan Davenport to do so. Also of note, O’Neal’s move on lap 18 to back off of Davenport rather than body-slamming the No. 49 to take second was a classy and mature move. Getting hard not to root for the “New Deal.”

Another youngster riding a hot streak picked up a big win back home. After spending the summer on the Hell Tour, Georgia’s Ashton Winger returned home to the Senoia Raceway and scored a convincing win on the Southern All-Stars tour, besting the richest super late model driver of 2021 in Brandon Overton to take the checkers. 

Pierce has lost none of the momentum garnered from a dominant title run in the DIRTcar Summer Nationals, as evidenced by two runner-up finishes and an average finish of 2.67 across three WoO features at Davenport this weekend. Having said that…

Vexed, Villains & Victims

There’s no getting around it, Pierce took out Madden in Saturday night’s feature at Davenport. Intentional or not, Pierce did him dirty, though he did apologize post-race.

The shortest race night of the weekend likely went to Biglerville, Pa.’s Greg Plank, who flipped his sprint car in the restart zone of turn 4 on the initial green flag of his heat race.

Mt. Holly, N.C.’s Chris Ferguson broke on Thursday night while running in the top five at Port Royal, then bowed out of a top-five running position Friday night with a flat tire. 

Robeline, La.’s Cade Dillard had an uncharacteristically bad night at Davenport Saturday, spinning out twice unassisted in his heat race and being forced to win a last-chance qualifier, only to finish 18th in the feature after bringing out a caution 38 laps into the 70-lap feature.

Rocklin, Calif.’s Robert Ballou missed out on the USAC sprint car doubleheader Saturday after injuring his leg in a Friday night flip. 

There is no driver luckier to be alive this weekend than Highland Ranch, Colo.’s Scott Cochran, who suffered a part failure and plowed into the retaining wall at full throttle during the Lucas Oil ASCS sprint car feature at Wakeeney Speedway Friday night.

The resulting crash may have been less severe thanks to a catchfence that gave way when it was hit, but that benefit came with a rather severe risk of decapitation. And I’m not sure the repairs were an improvement.

Fanning the Flames

Five-figure races not being streamed are becoming increasingly rare, but the Iron-Man Late Model Series race at Lake Cumberland Speedway in Kentucky offered a $10,022 first-place purse and yet was not available for any form of web streaming. On a night where late model fans saw their options narrow early in the evening thanks to a rainout at Port Royal and weather delays at Senoia, this is a major shortcoming for a touring series.

Having said that, just like with anything new, once the honeymoon is over, it becomes time to figure out annoying stuff like sleeping arrangements and bathroom etiquette. Case in point, dirt-race streaming. Take a look at this post emerging from a recent Flo Racing broadcast at Grandview Speedway in Pennsylvania.

A STATEMENT CONCERNING FLO RACING AT GRANDVIEW THURSDAY NIGHT For several years, the Thunder on the Hill Racing…

Posted by Thunder On The Hill Racing Series on Friday, August 27, 2021

I’m not here to speak like an influencer and say that the Thunder on the Hill modifieds (the support class for this program) should just be grateful for the exposure they’d get being on Flo alongside the main event for Grandview, the All-Star Circuit of Champions. But I’m inclined to say being part of the broadcast is a better alternative than being blacked out during the Flo program when it’s on the track.

This issue is a tough one all around, especially when one considers that major touring features often create a narrower profit margin for promoters than their weekly program. On the one hand, if I’m promoting a division that’s of lower stature than a national tour such as ASCoC, I want to be on the undercard. On the other hand, if I’m a track promoter bringing a national tour to the table that starts demanding a slice for the undercard as well, am I going to lose my national touring race as a whole?

Support classes oughta get paid, but this stance by the Thunder on the Hill guys seems likely to backfire.

The Big One. It’s not just for Daytona this weekend.

Saturday night marked the first grid walk of sorts I’ve watched at the USAC level. It will be the last. Watching two commentators hand off the mic between drivers is disorienting enough, but sitting through observations such as “fuel is important” and “I used to do track in high school” was way too Michael Waltrip-esque for a non-NASCAR broadcast. Maybe American oval track racing needs to accept that some things are better left to Formula 1.

On the one hand, I kind of applaud Aaron Reutzel for embracing his image as a busted felon in the sprint car racing world, branding his new ride as the Jailbreak Tour 2021. On the other hand, is it really a jailbreak if you’ve already pled guilty?

As irritating as it was to see so many races from coast to coast rained out this weekend, let’s keep some perspective, as many American lives are likely to be impacted in a very negative way by the approaching landfall of Hurricane Ida. Having a sister that spent the last four years as a resident in emergency medicine at the LSU hospital in New Orleans, it’s a part of the country that I am very familiar with, both in terms of its people and its vulnerability to severe weather.

I sincerely hope those in Ida’s path have heeded all warnings. For those out of harm’s way, please find a way to make a charitable contribution to a reputable organization to aid in whatever recovery will be needed.

Numbers Game

2

Flip count in the Smackdown finale at Kokomo Saturday night.

47

Super late models that contested the Rumble by the River second preliminary Friday at Port Royal.

$418

Tanner Thorson’s winnings for topping the King of the Hill pole qualifying bracket at Kokomo Saturday.

Where it Rated (on a scale of one to six cans, with one a stinker and a six-pack an instant classic): The weekend gets three overly sugary Hurricanes in a plastic cup. There was plenty of big money to be had, but none of the weekend’s races are going to be remembered for long.

Up Next: The coming midweek looks a lot like the previous one, with Sunday night featuring the World of Outlaws and Tuesday night hosting the Short Track Super Series center-drive modifieds. Coverage is available on DirtVision and Flo Racing, respectively.

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